The Exclusive Napa County Locals’ Top Ten

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By Lisa Adams Walter

Napa County address provides both front row seats for, as well as behind-the-scenes peeks at, a vast array of activities and events that can be found “only in Napa.” Locals have the rare benefit of experiencing Napa County unlike others. Year round there are a myriad of ways to become involved either as a supporter, participant,
spectator or volunteer.

As a local, I am continuously on the hunt for the best way to experience our region. Check back each month for some of the top “only in Napa Valley” opportunities in which to indulge, contribute, or become a part.

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Yountville Town Wide Yard Sale – Saturday, May 7

Hundreds of homes in Yountville bust out the excess for a massive town-wide yard sale only once per year. Typically this event is the first Saturday each May, and this year the date is Saturday, May 7. Roll into town, or roll out of bed and walk around if you live there, as nearly every street is dotted with yard / garage / tag sales filled with thousands of treasures. As with any such sale, the best stuff can be found early so grab a cup of java and hit the streets. It’s a fun event to park and stroll.

Grad Nite Napa – Volunteers Needed Now

While our Napa Valley High School Seniors won’t experience Grad Nite until June 9, the giant volunteer task force required to stage this important event needs to be fully in place in May. The organizing committee expects in excess of 600 students from the Napa area high schools to attend. The graduates will enjoy a safe evening that will include a hypnotist, live D.J. and dancing, casino, laser tag, salon hair styling and manicures, interactive games, arcade games, a poker tournament, all night all-you-can-eat buffet, plus surprise events. It takes an army to pull it off, and in addition to the enjoyment of making these kids happy, volunteers are fed very well and have fun. To become involved contact Bruce Nothmann at 707-637-6880 or visit the volunteer area of the website at NapaGradNite.com.

Mother’s Day Weekend Tea Tasting – Saturday, May 7

While there are a bounty of Mother’s Day activities in the Napa Valley ranging from wine tastings, to private tours, to balloon rides to brunches, celebrate with mom a day early at an elegant seated tea tasting by Creative-a-Tea at River Pointe Resort on Lincoln Avenue in Napa on Saturday May 7 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The event will include four different confections from local Napa establishments and five choices of specialty teas. Reservations are required, $25 per person. Visit CreativeaTea.com for more.

Mondavi Summer Music Festival  – Tickets on Sale

With an inaugural season that kicked off in 1969, the Mondavi Summer Music Festival is one of the Napa Valley’s first modern-day and longest-running cultural traditions. While the Robert Mondavi Winery is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, this annual event which was launched soon after the winery was founded has been a showcase for both established and rising musical artists for nearly fifty years. The summer season is announced each spring, and many times the hottest acts sell out quickly. As a local, that means you need to snatch your tix up now! Visit RobertMondaviWinery.com and click on Summer Concerts.

For Locals Afternoon in the Vineyards – Saturday, May 7

Members of the Napa Valley Vintners Association invite Napa Valley residents to tour their neighborhood vineyard on designated dates throughout the year. The next tour date is set for this month on Saturday, May 7 from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. Attendees will learn about the grapegrowing process, responsible vineyard management and the Napa wine community’s commitment to conservation, while meeting winemakers and vineyard managers who will lead tours and answer questions. Participating wineries for 2016, all Certified Green Napa Vineyards, include Trinchero Napa Valley (American Canyon); Trefethen Family Vineyards (Oak Knoll); Chimney Rock Winery (Silverado Trail); Honig Vineyard & Winery (Rutherford); Joseph Phelps Vineyards (St. Helena); and Benessere Vineyards (St. Helena). For precise vineyard addresses and locations visit: NapaVintners.com/community/afternoon_in_the_vineyards.asp. This event takes place rain or shine and there is no cost to attend. Simply visit the vineyard closest to you, reservations are not required.

Pawsport Napa Valley Benefit Napa Humane – Thursday, May 12 – Sunday, May 15

There are lots of wine events, but only one that’s fitting for you and your canine.  Pawsport Napa Valley, the only local dog-friendly, passport-style wine tasting event also benefits Napa Humane. Support this important event at 17 Napa Valley wineries and tasting rooms, which will feature exclusive tastings, food pairings, discounts, souvenirs for you and your pup, doggie treats and more! Pawsports are $75 per person and you must be age 21 or older to attend. For more visit NapaHumane.org/PawsportNV/

Girls on the Run 5K – Saturday, May 14

For one of the most fun, and empowering, outdoor fundraisers check out the Girls on the Run 5K which takes place at Napa Valley College. Girls on the Run (GOTR) Napa & Solano, now in its tenth year, has assisted more than 3,800 girls. Last year, 775 girls were served by a staff of 2.5 and a family of 100 inspiring volunteer “life coaches” at 40 school sites in Napa and Solano counties. At this “Superhero” themed event, attendees can soar, fly, leap or run through the course which meanders out into Kennedy Park for 3.1 miles alongside 460 real life GOTR Superheros (the girls) and 110 volunteer life coaches (the mentors) who will be celebrating their GOTR Power. Be a Superhero, go to GOTRNapaSolano.org to register or volunteer.

Napa Town & Country Fair  – August 10-14   NapaValleyExpo.com

While “fair time” may seem far away (this year the fair is set for August 10 – 14), now is actually the time to get going if you plan to participate (or have kids who plan to participate) as an exhibitor. Locals can enter a wide selection of categories ranging from baked goods, to home décor to photography to arts to crafts to gardening. There are also categories for junior exhibitors as well as kids that are involved in both 4-H and FFA. Online entries for competitive exhibits in all age ranges are all open as of May 1. To review the categories, and enter online, visit napavalleyexpo.com. Tickets for the fair, early purchases save money, are also on sale now.

Napa High Instrumental Music’s The Festival! – Saturday, May 21 3:00 to 7:00 pm – NapaHighBand.org

The entire community can enjoy the Napa High School Instrument Music Program’s inaugural downtown event called: THE FESTIVAL! On Saturday, May 21 from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. this outdoor, musical fundraiser will take place in the Oxbow Commons near Oxbow Marketplace. In addition to music by Napa High students, the event will also include food, wine, crafts and fun! A full-uniform parade march by the marching band, a concert level performance by the string orchestra, competition demonstrations by the drum line and color guard, entertainment by the jazz band will be performed. Admission is free, with food, wine and other activities available for purchase to benefit the music program. For details or to donate visit NapaHighBand.org and click on “support.”

Farmer’s Market – Season Is Here

Whether you are located Upvalley or in South County, there’s a farmers’ market not too far away. May is the opening of the season, and shopping a local open air market is not only a ton of fun, it’s one of the best ways to support a local, hardworking farmer while obtaining extremely fresh, just-picked, mostly organic, sustainably grown and interesting fresh ingredients, as well as specialty foods and artisan goods. Both markets also feature educational programs, and culinary demonstrations, as well as entertainment.

The City of American Canyon received a grant from the USDA to get a farmers’ market up and running in American Canyon. The market will have its grand opening on Sunday, May 1, with a ribbon cutting ceremony, live music, kids’ activities, and more.

The Napa Farmers’ Market will open on Tuesday, May 3 at its new location at the South Napa Century Center, near the Cinemark Theater and In-Shape fitness center. Napa Mayor Jill Techel will cut the ribbon at 8:00 am and the first 100 shoppers on May 3 (and also on Saturday, May 7) will receive a gift from the market.

Throughout the year I will continue to search for “only in Napa Valley” opportunities in which to indulge, contribute, or become a part. Feel free to send suggestions to lisa@adamswalter.com.

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Cadet Wine & Beer Bar

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By Craig Smith

Colleen Fleming and Aubrey Bailey, co-owners of Cadet Beer and Wine Bar, are very happy with how well their business has been received in the year and a half they’ve been open. Theirs was a concept that didn’t exist, and people love it.

“We envisioned a place to drink funky wine and beer past 9 p.m. in a fun environment with cool music,” said Fleming, who first conceived of the idea of Cadet. Bailey added, “It also has to be whole heartedly for the community.” Cadet has indeed been embraced by locals, including the wine community. “We get lots of industry people here, from
cellar rats to wine makers,” added Fleming. “There is a lot of sharing, mingling and meeting other people.”

Fleming said she is like many people, in that she wants to be her own boss. She spent years cooking in Napa restaurants such as Roux and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, then worked for her family’s winery, Kelly Fleming Wines, selling their cult estate-Cabernets. Bailey, her roommate at the time, had an equally impressive resume, having cooked in Napa
restaurants including Redd and Julia’s Kitchen. She was a sommelier at The French Laundry, and listened as Fleming fleshed out the idea for Cadet. “When Colleen said she

needed a partner, it was serendipitous, and I thought ‘Why not?” Fleming laughs, “I lured Aubrey away from the best restaurant in the country to open a bar in an alley.”

The name Cadet implies a trainee, beginner, someone excited to learn. “That’s how it should be for our guests and for us,” said Fleming. The two women initially thought they’d be a California wine bar, but tweaked the concept based on customer feedback. “Originally, we offered mostly California beers and wines,” said Bailey, “but a lot of guests wanted an international selection. It’s probably fifty-fifty now.”  Bailey said that helps industry folks. “If somebody is working on a new Syrah project, they can come here to drink wines from Rhone.” Beer has been a bigger hit than they expected.  “It’s crazy,” said Fleming. “People like to experiment and try something new. We constantly change the menu so that it’s never stale.”  Cadet always has six beers on tap and fifty different bottled beers, as well as sixteen wines by the glass. The wine and beer list is developed with the help of the customers and what they want to discover. “We’re lucky; they have good taste,” said Bailey, with a grin.

Wednesday nights feature a wine or beer maker as guest bartender. Hardly stuffy or pedantic affairs, the evenings are fun and casual. “We let them be bartenders for a night and pour and talk,” said Fleming. “Some even bring their own music.” Matthiasson Wines was recently featured. “They got to talk to a new generation of wine drinkers in a casual, fun atmosphere,” said Bailey.

The bar bites are a big part of Cadet. “We buy salumi from Oenotri and slice it here,” said Fleming. “We also have a proscuitto plate and grilled cheese, all served as bar bites.” The outdoor patio with its marketplace lights, tucked away as Cadet is in an alleyway, offers a cozy, neighborhood feel.

Cadet is open Monday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to Midnight, Fridays and Saturdays until 1:30 a.m. Stop in and enjoy a completely unpretentious evening.

930 Franklin Street, Napa  |  (707) 927-3623    |  cadetbeerandwinebar.com

Open Monday – Thursday 5PM – Midnight  |  Friday & Saturday 5PM – 1:30AM

EarthDay – Celebrate at at the Oxbow Commons

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Come join in the festivities at this year’s Earth Day Celebration on Saturday, April 23rd! Bring the whole family to join in the celebration and learn about our local environment. Earth Day attendees will discover many environmental exhibitor booths featuring products, services, games, and fun children’s activities. Great information will be available on a host of topics, including alternative energy, supporting local agriculture, watershed health, pollution prevention, conservation, local stewardship opportunities, and much more. This year the event has a great new location- the Oxbow Commons! So, come join the fun in their new location beside the Napa River from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.!

In addition to educational booths from local groups and businesses, there will be entertainment for the whole family. Great local bands and dancers will perform throughout the day.

Delicious local food, beer, and wine will be sold. Proceeds from beverage sales at Earth Day fund field-trip bus grants offered every year by the Environmental Education Coalition of Napa County (EECNC), the event host. EECNC funds field trips for Napa County students to visit sites such as Connolly Ranch, Bothe State Park, Lake Hennessey, and the Napa River Eco reserve where they can gain an appreciation of the local environment.  

Proceeds from beverage sales also support the Darcy Aston Environmental Advocacy Scholarship, which is awarded to a local student intending to pursue a career in the sciences.

Be a friend to the Earth and ride your bike to the event where the Napa County Bicycle Coalition will offer free valet bike parking! Attendees are encouraged to bring their own water bottle and stop by our “Water Bar” filling station.

If you want to start the day lending a hand to clean up our local environment,

they have the perfect opportunity for you! Join the Napa RCD and Spring Clean at several sites throughout downtown Napa to pick up litter in the creeks, river, and on our streets. The cleanup runs from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. visit naparcd.org for more information.

The fun doesn’t stop when the Earth Day festival ends! If you want more music, dancing, food, movement classes, nature hikes, stargazing, and great aerial and fire performances, head to Earth Night at Connolly Ranch from 5pm to 10pm!  Visit connollyranch.org for more information and to buy tickets.

Sustaining sponsors of the Earth Day celebration are the Napa Green Certified Land & Winery Programs, Healthy Buildings USA and Latitude 38 Entertainment. For a complete list of additional sponsors, exhibitors, food and beverage vendors, and entertainment, or to learn how to participate in this year’s Earth Day celebration, visit EarthDayNapa.com.

Don Perico Reopens in Dwight Murray Plaza Following the Quake

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By Craig Smith

Marco and Berenice Castaneda, owners of Don Perico Mexican restaurant, now in Dwight Murray Plaza at 1116 First Street, are long-time Napa residents. Like most people in Napa, they were jolted awake at 3:20 a.m., August 24, 2014, when the earthquake shook Napa to its core. “It was scary,” said Marco Castaneda. “We looked around the house to make sure everything was safe, then went to the restaurant.”

Castaneda knew things were bad as soon as he got downtown. The streets were strewn with broken glass and, in some cases, large sections of buildings that had collapsed during the shaking. Water leaks from burst pipes, some of it gushing, was evident everywhere. Shell-shocked, but busy, merchants were already helping each other make sense of it all and restore order. Castaneda opened the front door of Don Perico, and used a flashlight to look around. “It was pretty bad,” he said. Large areas of the ceiling had collapsed, and rubble was everywhere. It was obvious that, had the quake hit during dinner the night before, people would have been seriously injured, or worse. Castaneda wound his way through the mess, turned off the gas, and looked around. He realized there wasn’t much else he could do right then. Still, it never occurred to him that the restaurant was doomed at that location. “I knew the damage was bad, but figured we’d be open again in a couple of months.”

Shortly after moving from Mexico,  Castaneda started his restaurant career as a busboy in a Mexican restaurant in Bakersfield..  He worked hard, paid attention to everything about the business, and was promoted repeatedly over the next ten years. His boss wanted to open a restaurant in Napa and invited Cataneda to be his partner. At the time, Castaneda had no savings, but saw this as an opportunity to make a better life for his wife and family. He borrowed from relatives and made the plunge. Don Perico opened in Napa in January of ’94. As the years passed, Castaneda bought out his partner until he was eventually sole owner. The restaurant has been a local favorite, almost since opening. The year of the earthquake was also their twentieth anniversary.

“When we knew we couldn’t return to our original location, I started looking for a new place.” Finding a spot wasn’t easy, and Castaneda and his wife took part- time jobs in a wine-storage facility in American Canyon. One day, he was commiserating with the owner of the restaurant across the street from Don Perico.  After talking awhile, Castaneda offered to buy out the owner’s  lease. The two men agreed, and struck a deal. That turned out to be the easy part.

At the time, the building, which is also home to Kohl’s, was not locally owned. The parent company, based in Arizona, put Castaneda through the same hoops they would with a new, prospective tenant. His quick handshake with the now-former restaurant owner turned into five months of negotiations with the building’s owners.

Don Perico re-opened May 15th this year. The restaurant was scheduled to open at 5:00 p.m., but people were waiting by 4:30, so the Castanedas opened the doors early. For the first month after they reopened there was a wait to get a table for dinner almost every night.  The Castanedas are gracious, unassuming people, who are very grateful for everyone who dines with them. The support from the community has been humbling. Castaneda was recently given the American Dream Award by the Napa County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Don Perico is warm and inviting, offering good, honest, Mexican food. Take the family, and enjoy a relaxed night out.

Napa County’s Bustling Airport

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By Laird Durham

On an average day, 30,000 cars pass by Airport Boulevard at the junction of Highways 29 and 12.  There is a good chance yours is one of them, if not every day, at least once in a while.  But, the chances are that you do not know much about what goes on at the end of the road. You probably know it is an airport, and, maybe sometimes, while waiting for your traffic light to turn green, you see an airplane climbing up or circling in for a landing, but that’s about it.  Well, it may surprise you to find out that the Napa County Airport is a busy, exciting place. Among other things, it is an ideal place to train airline pilots and mount search and rescue operations. And, airport tenants provide more than $1
million a year for Napa schools.

First of all, on a peak day at the airport, there could be as many as 300 take-offs or landings – the Federal Aviation Administration lumps take-offs and landings together as “operations” – from twin-engine jets to small 2-seat planes, some built by their pilots from kits.  The operations are controlled by FAA Air Traffic Controllers housed in the state-of-the-art tower.  James Swanson, a second-generation, ATC Supervisor, says the Napa ATC crew is the youngest, most collaborative, and most professional he has ever worked with. They are so good the Napa tower is rated as a training center by the FAA, Swanson says.

The biggest and oldest operation at the airport is the 68-year-old, Napa Jet Center that manages or supports most of the private air activities: aircraft charters and rentals, jet fuel and av-gas supply, aircraft and engine repair and maintenance, aircraft sales, flying lessons, guest parking, pilot lounge and kitchen, and emergency medical service.  The Jet Center also will make reservations for fly-in visitors’ hotels, dining, car rentals, and wine tasting.  That last service is a big one:  Mark Willey, the Jet Center’s CEO, says 90% of visiting aircraft come here for winery visits.

Besides private and business aviation activity, the airport is a hub for law enforcement and search and rescue operations.  The California Highway Patrol has a flight operations center there, covering seven Bay-Area counties, with two helicopters and two fixed- wing airplanes manned almost around the clock by 24 pilot officers and

medics.  They have made some dangerous rescues over the past few months, from lifting injured hikers from rocky cliffs to off-shore boating accidents. At other times, CHP pilots have used high technology to direct ground officers to burglary or robbery suspects hiding in the bush. A group of some 20 airplane owners, based at the airport, support the Napa County Sheriff with a volunteer, Sheriff’s Aero Squadron that monitors emergency situations and helps with search and rescue operations.   

The International Airline Training

Academy, next door to the terminal building, has a fleet of 13, single-engine, Piper, flight trainers to qualify pilots for Asian airlines. For several years the academy was used to train pilots exclusively for Japan Airlines, but now it is training pilots for a handful of Asian airlines that some planners estimate will need 500,000 new pilots in the next ten years to meet the demand of Asia’s exploding growth. Unlike the US, with a large supply of airline pilot candidates from military and general aviation, Asian airlines must create pilots from scratch.  Captain Ron Davis, Chief Flight Instructor for IATA, expects to have 200 or more trainees this summer.

Many of the 197 aircraft owners who keep planes at the Napa airport are members of the Napa chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, and the Napa Pilots Association.  Both of those organizations sponsor the Young Eagles program that gives free airplane rides to youngsters 8 to 17 – more than 1 million children at last count. On one recent flight, an 8 year old wondered about the small, black dots in a meadow below, then realized they were cows. “Wow,” the young eagle said, “the earth is a really big place.”

The EAA also hosts monthly displays of vintage aircraft, and annual visits of a B-17 and a Ford, Tri-Motor airliner with rides open to the public.  Sometimes these activities are joined by
ground-based, historic automobile displays.

Some members of the EAA are building their own airplanes in hangars at the airport; some from kits and some plans of successful models. Their aircraft are classified as “experimental” by the FAA, a designation the Feds apply to any aircraft other than a factory-manufactured, certificated model.  Once built and test-flown 40 hours to meet FAA specifications, the home-built airplanes have the same degree of airworthiness as factory-built airplanes.

There’s a restaurant in the Napa Airport terminal building called “The Runway”. It is the successor to the long-closed, Jonesy’s restaurant, once a favorite of many old-time Napans. Besides a full menu and bar, “The Runway” is a microbrewery producing its own pale ale. Across the lobby is a gift shop with aviation-themed merchandise.  Tops in popularity are child-sized, flight jackets.  Grandmothers love them.

What is CanDo’s 2015 Napa Valley Give!Guide and Why Should You Care?

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In 2013, Napa Valley CanDo, the vibrant community service nonprofit that helped rid Napa of single-use plastic bags, works diligently to keep our rivers and creeks clear, and grows fresh, local produce for the Napa Food Bank, introduced another project: the Napa Valley Give!Guide.

The Give!Guide is a perfect fit for the approaching holiday season. It seeks to inspire a community of givers. Whether you’re a young or first time donor, or someone of any age who may not yet see yourself as being in a position to give, Napa Valley CanDo’s Give!Guide is for you.

WHAT ARE THE Give!Guide’S GOALS? 
The goals are simple: 1) To raise awareness and funds to support the exceptional work of a select group of small, medium and large local nonprofits serving Napa County residents, and 2) to encourage collaboration among these amazing nonprofit organizations.

HOW ARE THEY DOING?   In 2013 the Guide helped raise $106,000 with this end of year campaign. In 2014, that rose to an astonishing $235,000. This is a truly collaborative venture, with all the local nonprofits pitching in to extend their reach and support one another.

WHEN DOES IT TAKE PLACE?  From November 1 through midnight, December 31, CanDo will gladly accept your donations on-line or with a check. Donations begin at $10. A real-time ticker on the Give!Guide website helps everyone keep track of how each nonprofit is doing, moment by moment.

By the way, a kick-off gathering, free and open to the public, takes place on November 4 in the Paul Ash lobby of the Napa Valley College Performing Arts building, 5:30-7:30PM. You’re cordially invited to join in this celebration of community spirit in action.

How Does It Work? CanDo’s Give!Guide format makes giving a snap. 

  Watch for your November edition of Marketplace Magazine. Inside will be a bright orange pull-out catalog. It’s your personal copy of CanDo’s 2015 Napa Valley Give!Guide. Need more copies for a classroom or social group? Email

CanDo at CanDoGiveGuide@gmail.com or call 252.7743.

  November 1, the website is launched. NapaValleyGiveGuide.org features brief profiles of  each nonprofit with links to learn more about them.

You make a choice. You make a difference. The Give!Guide makes it easy.

  You can donate to one or multiple NPOs and you may vary the amount you give to each. You may also honor friends and family with your donations. When you’re ready to give on-line, there’s a single charge to your credit card. If you prefer, you may donate with a check using the tear-out sheet in the catalog.

  With the exception of usual credit card fees, every penny goes to the nonprofits you’ve selected. Napa Valley CanDo takes no fee.

• All donations are tax deductible.

  Incentives valued at $100 or more are offered every day to further sweeten the deal. Individual nonprofits may also offer incentives. See the website for details. Facebook keeps you up to speed, too:
Facebook.com/NapaValleyGiveGuide

2015 Give!Guide Nonprofits

ANIMALS

Napa Humane

Sunrise Horse Rescue

Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County

Wine Country Animal Lovers

ARTS & CULTURE

di Rosa

Napa Valley Museum

Suscol Intertribal Council

COMMUNITY

Church Women United Clothing Center

Habitat for Humanity

Napa Circles Initiative

Napa County Bicycle Coalition

Napa Valley Community Housing

On The Move:  VOICES

ParentsCAN

EDUCATION

Community Resources for Children

Girls on the Run Napa & Solano

Napa Valley Education Foundation

Napa Valley Nursery School

ENVIRONMENT

Napa County Resource Conservation District

HEALTH & WELLNESS

Aldea Children & Family Services

Canine Guardians

Community Action
of Napa Valley (CANV)

Cope Family Center

Mentis

Moving Forward Towards Independence

Napa Valley Hospice & Adult Day Services

NEWS

NRRC | Napa Recovery Resource Center

The Pathway Home

The Table

YOUTH & SENIORS

Big Brother Big Sisters of the North Bay

Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley

Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga

Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind

Foster Kids Fund

Girl Scouts – Upper Valley Service Unit

Loving Animals Providing Smiles

Molly’s Angels of Napa County

Napa CASA,  A Voice for Children

The Joys of ADULT COLORING

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By Dara Weyna

Do you remember the last time you sat down for a much-needed break and grabbed your coloring book?

Welcome to the newest craze in finding your center while losing yourself in the moment. Move over yoga, adult coloring books are here.

As an artist, I have always found creative fulfillment by letting my ideas flow through line and color onto a surface in the form of drawing. I know the personal, often hard to articulate benefits of releasing the creative impulse. It, therefore, excites me to see that others are finding ways to do the same, through the highly-popular medium of coloring.

Thanks in part to the wildly-successful book, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book by illustrator, Johanna Basford, which has sold over 2 million copies worldwide, the coloring book market has skyrocketed. Dover Publisher’s “Creative Haven” line, launched in 2012 has sold over 3 million books and has helped to create a massive, new, industry category. Walk into any bookstore, box store, or even grocery store, these days and, sure enough, you will find a section devoted to coloring books.

Since we rely so heavily on technology in our fast-paced and stressful world, it is crucial to find non-digital ways to eliminate stress and maintain a calm mind and body. This is one reason why the “old-school” trend of coloring has become so enticing.

Group coloring sessions are sprouting up all over the country in libraries, recreation-centers and amongst friends in their homes. According to former Bay Area artist and popular coloring book author, Lisa Congdon, “It’s a fun way to socialize while ‘making art’ and it doesn’t require a lot of concentration, so you can chat or have a glass of wine while you’re doing it.” It allows for creative expression because coloring evokes the nostalgia of childhood.

When children create, they do so without fear or intimidation. They go forth in the freedom of pure expression because they haven’t yet been conditioned to “stay in the lines” or to only color things as they may be seen with their eyes. So, their pages are filled with blue cats, orange trees, pink trucks…and purple grass. It was the inspiration of my son’s own colorful interpretation of a nature scene that led me to choose the title, “The Grass Can Be Purple” for my first coloring book.

While creating line-drawn Valentine’s Day cards as a fundraiser for my son’s school, I began thinking about turning the images into actual, full-size, coloring pages. Many friends were sharing articles on the adult coloring-book craze with me on Facebook and when people saw my illustrations they began encouraging me to create a book of my own. The timing of this encouragement was perfect as it was a very stressful time for me personally, and I found that drawing and coloring were some of the best ways to calm my anxiousness and diffuse my frustration. Experiencing the benefits of this activity made me want to offer the same service of healing to others. In the future, I intend to organize group coloring sessions at our teen and senior centers in the hopes of bringing our communities together through this fun and rewarding creative activity.

Once I committed to making the book, I began drawing images that appealed to me: abstract nature forms, floral and paisley patterns, underwater scenes and other designs inspired by my appreciation of global elements from India, Scandinavia and Mexico. Many of the pages in the book are a synthesis of drawings or paintings that I had already done in the past. Some of the work is very loose and organic…swirling curly-cues and vines, whimsical flowers and leaves. Other drawings are much more symmetrical or have a lot of repeated patterns. I love knowing that others will make these pages into their own unique piece of art, turning the final product into a creative collaboration.

When I was a young girl, I would sit for hours with my box of Crayolas and large sheets of paper that my dad would bring home from his office. I’ve always had an insatiable desire to make things and a deep appreciation and admiration for things that are made by hand. I work in printmaking, jewelry making, crochet, needlepoint, watercolor and acrylic painting, to name a few, but drawing and coloring have been my very first artistic love. Now, 40 years later, it is a rewarding,
full-circle joy to be liberating this childlike creativity again for myself and for others.

I invite you to join me in the fun and relaxing practice of coloring. Come, embrace an activity where you can let go of perfectionism and make your own rules. Mistakes are a part of the process and can become “happy accidents.” Let your hand take your mind and body to a relaxed and restorative place. Release your inner child and hush the voice that tells you it’s just about “staying in the lines.” Revisit your childhood and let your color choices be influenced by your mood or desire. After all, who says the grass can’t be purple?

Dara Weyna is a mom and artist from American Canyon. Her book, “The Grass Can Be Purple: 24 unique illustrations for creative coloring” is available at:

The Napa Bookmine

Online: http://www.etsy.com/shop/CoffeeandLilacsLove (free shipping for locals)

In person (daraweyna@gmail.com)

Follow her @ facebook.com/coffeeandlilacs  to see more work and to join in future coloring events.